Budget Update & New District Impact Projections - June 24, 2009
June 24, 2009
First off, this morning we are unveiling the latest www.ccleague.net/impact district-by-district impact of the Conference Committee's budget plan. This is using the latest data available and will inevitably vary when the cuts are fully implemented next year and as each district's final current year data is tabulated. Please don't hesitate to ask either Theresa Tena or me any questions or offer any comments about the site, which is at http://www.ccleague.org/impact.
The Legislature has scheduled votes for today on the Conference Committee's budget plan, although it's clear that Republicans are not embracing the tax increases (vehicle license, oil and tobacco) included in the plan, and are demanding a deeper level of cuts.
It's a frustrating but necessary part of the process, a sort of getting-to-know-you "first date" during which each party tries to determine the true intentions and bottom line of the other. Meanwhile, the very real budgetary timb bomb ticks away.
Many community college districts are trying to finalize their borrowing for the next fiscal year this week, a usually routine task complicated by the budgetary uncertainty. Like cities and counties, community college districts borrow money from private investors to get through the austere months leading to December property taxes, and now many are having to borrow to accommodate "deferrals" included in the budget plan. Sensibly, private investors and rating agencies usually like to see a final budget before lending the money.
Further, while there is consensus that the fee for community colleges will be $26/unit this fall, colleges conducting registration now are limited to collecting $20, and then will have to chase down students for the other $6 when the deal is done. It certainly is no way to run the world's largest system of higher education.
Many districts are forced to make difficult decisions, with staffing reductions, compensation reductions and furloughs a very real possibility and necessity. The sooner the Legislature takes action, the more time everyone is going to have to make the life adjustments necessary to weather the situation.
We are in an odd advocacy position. While our faculty and staff, students and districts would all benefit from quick action, we don't really want to express gratitude for a poorly crafted budget for community colleges. It may be the best we can get in this environment, but it's a travesty that we are reducing enrollment by 6% at a time of huge enrollment demand. Further, the deep cuts to categorical programs are being mitigated by speculative federal funds that, if received, will only fill the holes this year. Next year, we're right back at the starting board with 32-62% cuts in most of our categorical programs. Finally, after several years of being ignored as we pleaded for a long-term fee policy, the Legislature plans a 30% increase with little notice to students and to the colleges already registering them.
Thus, we are "sitting tight" today. We will watch the Legislature's "first dance" and, like the members themselves, we will try to ascertain the end game. For those that want to follow today's actions on a "play-by-play" basis, follow the http://www.twitter.com/ccleague League's Twitter stream. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities, and thank you for raising your voice for community colleges.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org